The language of popular politics from the Gracchi to Sulla
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This thesis will add to the debate on the nature of popular politics at Rome from the time of the Gracchi to Sulla. It examines contemporary evidence in order to reconstruct the terms in which political discourse was conducted. The period marks a time of political dynamism in the Republic, prior the fateful precedents set by Sulla, and falls before the period dominated the Ciceronian corpus. The first aim of the thesis will be to evaluate and utilize the fragmentary evidence of contemporary oratory in order to consider the terms in which politicians described themselves and their opponents. This will allow for a critique of the model of Roman politics derived from Cicero's works which has been often ascribed to the period. Rather than substantiating the traditional picture of politics, conducted in terms of the opposition between popularis and optimas, it reveals that this period is characterized by competition to appropriate the same rhetorical concepts and identification with the traditional role of the Senate in the res publica. The second aim is to contribute to the question of the role of ideology in Roman politics by further demonstrating the existence of a versatile and varied vocabulary capable of articulating a discourse between different ideological standpoints.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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